Government of Jamaica Houses of Parliament Design Competition
Jamaica has journeyed from being an obscure island territory in the ‘New World’ to a colonial powerhouse where full political control was vested for the British Empire who occupied, settled and economically subjugated, to a now independent nation. Jamaica today is made up of citizens from varying backgrounds and, like its national motto ‘Out of many, one people’ is a complex, multicultural nation. While overwhelmingly of African descent, there also people of Jewish, Syrian, Lebanese, and Indian, Chinese, German, English, Scottish and Irish ancestry. They came fleeing persecution, through the brutality of slavery, in search of opportunity or as indentured servants but now live together with one dream with one hope, to be a nation of opportunity, of equality, of justice striving to succeed.
The Houses of Parliament of Jamaica represents the changed paradigm, our independence, our ability to govern ourselves as a nation. It is based on our constitutional monarchy which allows our citizens to choose who will govern the country through free elections. It represents the legislative branch of government which creates and amends laws for the peace, order and development of Jamaica and is composed of the nominated Senate and the elected House of Representative. It represents the voice of the people, the will of the people and the vision is that as a symbol of the people it be located in the People’s Park. A manifestation of our struggles and our achievements, commanding our respect, generating civic pride, of a people who holds their destiny in their own hands who dare to dream of the possibilities, of a future for our people which our fore fathers and our national heroes sought to obtain.
The National Heroes Park echoes the journey, the evolution of the nation. While it continues to be the largest public open green space in Kingston it went from being a place for the agricultural pens north of the old city, to the Kingston Race Course and for almost 100 years it was considered the playground for the city before it became the George VI Memorial Park in 1953. The accompanying Act of 1956 deemed it to be a public garden, pleasure park and recreation area for the benefit of inhabitants of the Corporate Area and then in 1973 it became the National Heroes Park and the permanent place for honouring Jamaica’s National and World War Heroes. Here lie the official memorials to the country’s seven National Heroes. Over the years the park has been used for concerts, large public events, as a refuge during catastrophes and for sports and recreation. The journey of the park continues however, like all urban environments, a constant cycle of formation and reorganization as they adapt to the changing circumstances of the city. (Jacobs) This adaptation is to that of a National Park, expanding its reach to that of the nation, all our people. As it continues to be the People’s Park, it also evolves in symbolism as the embodiment in joyful celebration of our culture, the dignity of our existence and represents the hopes, dreams and aspirations of our lives.
The New Houses of Parliament will occupy a commanding position in the National Heroes Park allowing the space to evolve into one that begins to truly image the city, to uplift the mood its environs, to give value, a sense of place and to continue to provide opportunities for our citizens to partake of their democratic rights. It will provide the freedom to gather, to talk, make ourselves heard, eat, drink, rest, connect with nature and trade; ennobling, inspiring, entertaining, soothing and above all empowering. It will become an even more significant public green space, it will contribute to the quality of urban life, adding vitality to our local urbanity, meeting our needs for physical, intellectual, emotional and social stimuli for healthy development for both young and old as well as continue to accommodate a community for the people, the urban dweller, the rural visitor, the tourist all engaged in convivial life.
This is OUR JAMAICAN PARLIAMENT.
The Government of Jamaica (GOJ) hereby invites entries to a public, architectural design competition for the development of New Houses of Parliament to be located in the National Heroes Park. in Kingston, Jamaica. The concept includes a parliamentary complex to be centrally located within the confines of the park, among recreational spaces and gardens which requires the entire multi-purpose site to operate as a cohesive cultural and heritage environment. The developed park will stand as a focal point for further improvements in and around the area. This competition is open to all registered Jamaican architects or teams consisting of a registered Jamaican architect, whether based locally or abroad.